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Back When They Bucked with Olin Young
Written by: Theresa Freeman Carpenter< Back to Articles
In 1954, Olin Young started his professional rodeo career at Pecos, Texas. From there, the young cowboy competed in, and placed in all the major and small town rodeos of the time, vying for a chance at the World Title, a dream he would achieve many times in the coming years. In fact, the cowboy was so dedicated to his career, that in the early 1960’s, Young designed his own roping saddle, that was built by Windy Ryon. Later, Ryon manufactured and sold “The Olin Young Roper” at his store, Ryon’s Saddle Shop & Western Store in Ft. Worth.
Of course, winning multiple world titles requires much travel. Some memories of traveling are not always good ones, like the night he and a crew of fellow ropers were traveling from Salinas, California in separate vehicles. Glen Franklin, and Herschel Romine had new cars. Olin and Jake Bogard were in an older 1957 Chevrolet pulling a horse trailer. Coming out of Salinas Olin was driving, vividly recalling the horrific traffic. He witnessed a vehicle almost hitting Glen. Because of it, Olin had to swerve hitting cement causing two tires on the trailer to blow out.
“That was pretty scary,” Young admits.
According to Young, during his travels, following a long day on the road, he would try to locate rodeo grounds to spend the night. He carried with him as part of his gear, an army cot so he could sleep near his horses. Of course, this wasn’t the case when his wife, Letha, traveled with him. Hotels/motels were not as commonplace as they are today, and according to Letha, there were no accommodations at all in Burwell Nebraska, Sidney Iowa, and Cheyenne Wyoming. However, local residents would open their homes to cowboys, and their wives, if traveling with them. As far as restaurants go, not only did Sidney, Iowa not have a motel, the town didn’t have a restaurant. The ladies from the local Baptist Church would feed the cowboys in the basement of their church.
Young didn’t always travel by vehicle, but sometimes flew to rodeos. Flying, however, didn’t come without it’s share of excitement. Once, six cowboys decided to ride in a small plane to quickly get to another rodeo. Although six were aboard, the plane was only rated to hold five passengers. Leaving Salinas, California headed to Nampa, Idaho, the passengers were Shawn Davis, John W. Jones (a steer wrestler), Barry Burk, Jim Kenney, the pilot, Harley May, and Young. Jones was riding in the front of the plane, and announced to the passengers ‘we got a problem.’ The hydraulic light and the landing gear came on indicating a possible malfunction. Obviously relaying the message from the pilot, Jones announced they would have to land in the dirt beside a track. He instructed the group to ‘get out’ when the plane slowed down enough to do so. Kenney ‘abandoned ship’ before the plane even stopped.
Full story available in November 1, 2014 issue.